Hard pastels are a great choice for artists looking to create beautiful and vibrant works of art. Unlike soft pastels, hard pastels are harder and firmer in texture, resulting in greater control and precision when creating lines and shapes.
There are lots of different brands of artist quality hard pastel sets available on the market today. In this blog post we’ll be taking a look at some of the best hard pastel sets so you can find the perfect one for your needs. We’ll be looking at factors such as colour selection, price point, and overall performance.
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Richeson Semi-Hard Square Pastels
Richeson Semi-Hard Square Pastels are a great choice for artists looking for a high quality pastel with superior control. The square shape of the pastel provides a flat edge for shading, and can be sharpened to a point if desired. The semi-hard texture allows for crisp, hard edges without crumbling, making them perfect for underpainting.
The colour selection is vast, with sets ranging from 12 to 120 colours. All of the colours are vibrant, lightfast and made of high-quality ingredients, leaving less dust than other brands. Richeson Semi-Hard Square Pastels can be used in many different ways; they are ideal for creating detailed lines and edges, as well as shading large areas. Use the pastels on their side for filling in background areas.
If you work with soft pastels too, hard pastels are a great medium for blocking in areas of colour, before filling in details with soft pastel. Hard pastels fill the tooth of the paper less quickly
Overall, Richeson Semi-Hard Square Pastels offer an excellent range of colours and textures that make them suitable for any type of artwork. With their superior lightfastness and ability to create crisp lines and edges, they are one of the best hard pastel brands available. Their set of 120 is under $130, making them more affordable than many soft pastel options.
Van Gogh Hard Pastels
Van Gogh Hard Pastels are square-shaped pastels that are easy to use and provide richly pigmented colours. These pastels are made from pigment and clay. They are ideal for sketching and tight drawing with the edge of the stick, as well as laying in large areas of colour with the broad side. Van Gogh Hard Pastels come in a variety of sets, from 12 to 24 colours. The colour range is less varied than other hard pastel brands. However, there is a good range of primaries, warm and cool versions of reds, yellows and blues and a nice selection of earth colours. From the palette of 48, artists can mix a spectrum of tones and hues to represent both realistic muted tones and highly saturated colours.
These pastels produce very little dust and are highly durable, making them an excellent choice for both professional and amateur artists alike. These pastels seem to make less mess compared to others and they work well in combination with soft pastels.
They can be used on various surfaces such as pastel paper or watercolour paper. Additionally, they can be blended together to create unique colour combinations or layered over each other to create interesting textures. With Van Gogh Hard Pastels, you can easily create beautiful works of art that will last for years to come.
Sargent Art Square Chalk Pastel
Sargent Art Square Chalk Pastel Sets are a great choice for students and hobby artists. The smooth texture of the pastels makes them easy to work with, and the brilliant pigmentation enables artists to create bright marks on the paper. The pastels blend easily, allowing for more creative possibilities.
The sets come in a variety of sizes, making them suitable for any project or budget. They are also available in an array of 144 colours, at more than half the price of the Richeson brand.
This brand of pastel is geared more towards beginners and students rather than professional artists. The sticks are chalky and snap more easily than more expensive brands. However, with the large range of colours, these pastels provide an unlimited potential for creating excitingly vibrant artworks.
Prismacolor NuPastel Color Sticks
Prismacolor NuPastel Color Sticks are intensely vibrant and have a creamy texture. Compared to other brands such as Sargent and Van Gogh, Prismacolor NuPastel Color Sticks offer superior blending and shading capabilities. They feel pigment rich, however, the lightfastness ratings are lower than the Richeson brand. This brand is well loved and recommended by many artists—Prismacolor also manufacture the popular coloured pencils.
Each stick measures 3.625″ x 1/4″ (92mm x 6mm) and is stronger than standard pastels, making them less prone to breakage and dust. The range of colours available is also impressive, with sets ranging from 12 to 96 colours. The set of 12 colours lacks a yellow tone, however it includes a large range of greens. This may be a useful starter set for landscape artists.
These pastels excel in their ability to create details and block. incolours without taking up the tooth of the paper. Additionally, the sticks are easy to clean up after use, simply pack them away after use.
Cretacolor Carré Hard Pastels
Cretacolor Pastel Carré Hard Pastels are a popular choice for artists around the world. The pastels come in an array of 72 luminous shades, available to buy indivdually as well as in sets.
The square shape of the pastels makes them easy to hold and control, while their hard texture allows for creating details and layering. With their high level of pigmentation, they provide excellent coverage and colour intensity. They are creamier in texture compared to NuPastels and Richeson pastels. The Cretacolor pastels are also slightly less pigmented compared to NuPastels, however the fact that they are slightly cheaper and sold individually comes at a big advantage.
Their square shape makes them ideal for detailed work such as portrait or landscape painting. Use the sharp edge of the pastel for techniques like hatching, cross hatching or scumbling. Make sure to use these on pastel paper to prevent smudging.
The benefits of hard pastels
Working with hard pastels is ideal for creating intricate details and sharp edges. Hard pastels adhere better to surfaces, making them great for use on paper and other materials. They can be sharpened to a finer point for detailed artwork. Their texture and colour of the sticks hold up longer than softer pastels. They also don’t flake off as much as the softer varieties and can be used to fill in small areas of artwork. Hard pastels are the perfect choice for achieving unique strokes and adding depth to any drawing or painting.
How to use hard pastels
Creating unique strokes with hard pastels is relatively easy and can be done with a few simple techniques. First, hold the pastel stick like a pencil and use the side of the stick to create wide strokes. If a thinner line is desired, rotate the stick and use the sharpened point to draw. Also, experiment with different pressures when drawing—using a light touch will create softer lines while more pressure will result in darker and bolder effects. Using these methods, you can easily create an array of unique strokes that add depth and texture to your artwork. Use them for the first layers underneath a soft pastel drawing to block in tones. However, avoid layering hard pastels over soft pastels as they could remove colour from the paper. If you interested in learning more about pastel drawing, check out our comparison of oil pastels vs soft pastels.